Expanding Horizons with Full-Text Collections
The walls of the Carrier Library can contain only a finite number of books, but recent purchases of full-text collections of electronic books have greatly expanded the selection of resources the library offers. While obtaining the original editions of Laurence Sterne’s novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy or Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia may not be feasible, these documents can be provided electronically through databases such as Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) and American History and Culture Online: Sabin Americana, 1500-1926 (Sabin).
ECCO comprises digitized texts from the eighteenth century published primarily in Great Britain. Although the database is generally thought of as a literature resource, its contents actually cover a much broader scope. Based on The English Short Title Catalogue, ECCO contains the full text of nearly 150,000 books printed in the English language and various foreign languages, including works from history, geography, social sciences, fine arts, medicine, science, technology, literature, language, philosophy, religion, law, and general reference books such as almanacs and catalogs. With its broad interdisciplinary scope, ECCO provides a cultural backdrop to the 18th century through its access to this valuable content, most of which is no longer available for purchase in print.
Patricia Hardesty, a reference librarian and liaison to history, philosophy and religion, and political science, commented that “ECCO has fascinating accounts of the breaking news of the 18th century. I found an eyewitness account of the first six days of the French Revolution—published in Ireland in 1789—and it is not owned by a single U.S. library! Another search retrieved over 100 books tracing the development of the small pox vaccine over the course of the century.”
Sabin Americana provides digitized full text on over 28,000 literary and historic works that were published in and written between 1500 and 1926 about the Americas, including North America, South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and the Polar Regions. The titles included in this full-text collection are from Joseph Sabin’s Bibliotheca Americana. The contents of the database are broadly grouped into the following subject areas: antebellum, arts and literature, biography, Civil War, colonial era, colonization, early republic, education, finance, immigration, maritime, medicine, miscellaneous, postbellum, race, religion, science, slavery, travel, and women. As with ECCO’s contents, Sabin’s contents would not be available to JMU users in a tangible form.
JMU Libraries own both The English Short Title Catalogue and the Bibliotheca Americana in print, but these two print resources only index works and do not contain any full text. In a sense, ECCO and Sabin enhance the utility of these older print sources by providing access to the texts that they index.
To facilitate access to the contents these two collections, the Libraries have purchased over 28,000 catalog records for the Sabin collection and are considering purchase of the catalog records for 150,000 digitized volumes in ECCO. Once added to LEO, the library catalog, these records will help users to locate specific texts from both Sabin and ECCO.
Here is a list of other recently acquired full-text collections:
America’s Historical Newspapers: 1690-1922
American Broadsides & Ephemera, Series I: 1760-1900
American History & Culture Online: Sabin Americana, 1500-1926
ARTFL: American and French Research on the Treasury of the French Language
Black Short Fiction
Early American Imprints, Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker, 1801-1819
ECCO: Eighteenth Century Collections Online
Latin American Women Writers
To find these and other primary source resources, go to the Primary Sources databases page.
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